The children go back to school tomorrow, and the transition from Dad-mode to launch-mode begins.
After I took a week or two off to adjust to an abrupt transition, this has been an insanely productive summer. (Obviously not the “writing the blog” front, though.) I’m in the middle of rewriting Serendeputy, my personal news application, from the ground up, and I’m pretty excited by the direction it’s taken. A lot has changed since I wrote the first version in 2008-2009, and it’s been so much fun to be able to update it to match the world we’re in now.
It’s currently in private “pre-alpha” i.e., running on my laptop. I should have a thrill-seeker version available for early testing by the end of September. If you’re interested in playing with it, please drop me a line.
Tech notes for those who are interested in that sort of stuff:
It’s still a Rails (4.0) front end, but that’s almost entirely a thin wrapper over a series of services.
I’m playing with Clojure for the personalization engine. I’ve written the original logic in Ruby to make sure it works; I’m going to see if I can port it over to Clojure to get a performance and memory boost.
I’m pretty much all in on AWS. Serendeputy currently runs on a few Rackspace (formerly Slicehost) servers; the new version is entirely AWS-based.
I’m about to fire up RubyMotion to write the iOS client. I’d really rather have a native client, and I’m hoping that my using a Ruby-based environment can make that happen. If it works, then I should be able to contract out an Android version. If not, then I’ll fall back to the mobile-optimized site through the browser.
My whole team was laid off at the end of last week. So, I have lots of unexpected free time on my hands! If you know anyone who can benefit from my skills, please send them along. Here’s my LinkedIn profile.
In the meantime, I’m going to work on building the next version of Serendeputy (potentially with a shorter name) and getting up to speed on a couple of new technologies. It’s as good a time as any to write the iOS front-end.
The idea is that we can provide an friendly, objective assessment of your senior to let you both know how she’s doing. I think this will be useful, because an expert can spot potential issues before they become real problems.
Please check it out and let me know if you think it would be useful. (Or, buy it if you need it now!).
It’s times like these when I’m excited to be living in the future.
I learned algebra in seventh grade, from Mrs. Doyle if I remember correctly. That seemed appropriate; even while not starting until the seventh grade, I was probably among the first 20% of Holliston’s class of ’90 to learn algebra. It was hard, but I figured it out, eventually moving on to geometry, trig and calculus.
We played it together in the beginning, but eventually she just started playing it by herself, eventually making it all the way through and beating the game.
In the beginning, it was matching various pictures. By the end, it was factoring out common elements and solving for x as you can see in this picture.
I’m proud of her, because I think this is actually pretty impressive for a first grader. (humble brag).
I’m more interested in what other forms of self-directed learning are now possible for her. If you have any suggestions for similar types of experiences, please email them to me or send them along on Twitter.
I can only imagine what college will be like for her in 11 years.
Yes, I realize I’ve been a little light on the posting ’round these parts lately. (And don’t even talk to me about the state of 39 Essays. That’s turning into the project of a decade, not a year.)
Anyway, part of the reason I’ve been dark is because we’ve been working towards another launch, one that went out the door this morning.
Potentially most interesting in this release is that we’re incorporating expert senior-living advice from some of the top experts in Massachusetts (and eventually around the country). And no, I’m not just rewriting Abuzz.
We had a little over two feet of snow here in Concord during the great Blizzard of 2013. At least it happened at the beginning of the weekend.
Six hours of shoveling yesterday, in which I got almost the entire driveway done. Probably another six hours today to do the end of the driveway (where the plows dump all the snow from the busy street we’re on), the mailbox across the street so the mailman can get to it, my mother-in-law’s car, the path to the oil tank and the path to the front door. Oy.
At least I got a couple of good pictures out of it. Here’s what it looked like when I opened the garage door to get started.
Sadie and Lucy liked going out in the snow. Lucy made sure to enforce the “If I go out and play in the snow, then I get hot chocolate” rules.
With any luck, I’ll be done shoveling by dinnertime tonight, just in time to get ready to go to work tomorrow.
I started a few weeks ago as the VP of Product and Technology at a startup called Compass Aging. And today, we just pushed live the first public beta of the product!
We’re building a tool that will help adult children of aging parents take control of all the challenges and opportunities that come along with that stage of life. The vision is big, and this first public beta represents about 20% of the functionality. (So, yes, things are likely to be pretty dark in these parts over the next few months…)
What’s most interesting in this first version:
- The Care Plan tool. What we’ve done here is to build out the first version of a tool that takes the concerns you have for your loved one and builds a plan customized to those concerns, with additional information and suggestions on how to take control.
- The Care Safe. This might be my favorite piece. We’ve built out the first version of a centralized place where you (and your siblings and other concerned folks) can keep track of everything that’s happening with your parents, including to-dos, notes, important documents, etc. Just keeping everyone on the same page and bought in to the plan is going to be a major win for folks.
- Housing Search. Choosing a senior-living option is one of the most important (and expensive) decisions you’re going to have to make. We want to be best in the world at helping you make that decision.
We’ve started in Newton, Needham and Wellesley. As we figure out what information is most useful for the consumers, we’re going to build this out nationwide. The IA geek in me is very excited about this project.
Check it out and let me know what you think!
p.s., Big visions require great teams. I’m hiring for about a dozen positions right now. Check them out here: Jobs at Compass Aging.
While lost in Walden Woods this afternoon, I discovered a neat feature in the new Maps application in iOS6. If you keep pressing the button in the lower left, it will turn on a view where it will show you your field of vision overlaying the map.
I am obviously quite the woodsman. I made it out of a couple-acre forest with only my wits. And a GPS-enabled phone with a compass built in. And pluck — don’t forget pluck.
Wow, Twitter is (in my humble opinion) committing a massive strategic blunder. If you want a thriving ecosystem, let your partners feel confident and make money.
Today. Literally, today. I’m sitting down and writing the product plan for a suite of new products. They’re knowledge products, but not specifically communications products. Twitter integration was a given. Now it’s unlikely.
Classic mistakes are classic for a reason — they’re highly seductive. Still, it’s sad to see.
The good news: probably a lot longer than we’d expect.
What people don’t appreciate, when they picture Terminator-style automatons striding triumphantly across a mountain of human skulls, is how hard it is to keep your footing on something as unstable as a mountain of human skulls.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past few months about personal APIs, personal deputies and Freenon’s forkable nuggets of knowledge. Within a few years (maybe sooner), everything will have an API, and most of your personal interactions with the world will be API-mediated. I’m thinking through how Serendeputy fits into this model. Right now, it’s your personal intermediary for news, and your profile is its API. How does this extend beyond this one use case?
Mostly, I want to see what I can do to make sure that this future bends towards open, with individuals controlling their data and their life. (See the previous post on dystopian futures…)
Anyway, this is the type of stuff I’m thinking about. I want this to exist; now it’s just the small matter of implementation, distribution and paying the bills in the meantime